Over the 13+ years of my freelance writing career I have written A LOT. I have written hundreds of articles and blog posts, dozens of reports and white papers, numerous books and eBooks, academic material, and many other types of content.
And here’s the thing…
For many, perhaps most, of these projects I had no previous knowledge of the subject matter. That’s right. I would go in and do my research and write something amazing. And I would learn. That’s right. As a freelance writer…
I get paid to learn!
Sure, clients are paying me to produce content for them. But ultimately, a nice side benefit is the fact that I learn about whatever I’m writing about. Here are a few examples of subject matter I have covered:
- Dog training
- Starting a saltwater fish tank
- Cosmetic dentistry
- Law of attraction
- Neuroliguistic programming
- Weight loss
- App development
- How mobile technology has changed – well – everything!
- Teen addiction issues
- Living the life you were meant to live
- Personal financial management
- Corporate governance
- Software courses and course notes
- Online marketing
- Digital publishing
All of these topics are interesting. Some of them have been useful to me. Some of them have been invaluable. For example, I know how to create designs in Adobe Illustrator, thanks to the courseware I have written. And I have honed this skill set and added it to my writing services. Now, someone can hire me to do both writing AND graphic design.
I have also learned from one of the best copywriters and internet marketers in the world, simply by writing for him. And these are skills that can, again, help me expand my business.
Starting with What You Know
I didn’t always write on more advanced topics. In the beginning I kept it simple. I was learning how to be a freelance writer. I might not have known about the topic I was given to write about, but they were all relatively easy. Writing about lace wigs, dog training, and piano lessons are relatively straightforward.
Anyone who is a good writer can become a freelance writer. And everyone has some niche or subject matter they are knowledgeable about and experienced in. If you aren’t sure where to begin, start there. Your knowledge and experience in a specific niche or industry puts you one step ahead of the game.
For example, you might be a nurse or a doctor, in which case you can have a side gig writing on medical topics. You might be an engineer, which means you can write on engineering topics. You might be a graphic designer or an internet marketer or a clothing designer, and you can write on these topics.
The area of specialization doesn’t matter. There are people out there who need content in that niche or industry. The key is to start a freelancing career writing in the niche you know, then add on some easy-to-research topics. This will ensure your client list and knowledge base grows.
Be a Good Researcher
As time goes on and freelance writing experience is gained, it is possible to start taking on more challenging topics. But to do this, solid research is required. This is particularly the case when writing things like reports, white papers, or academic material. These types of jobs often pay better, but the level of research required is high.
In fact, research is often the biggest part of any writing project. I find it often takes as much time to conduct thorough research as it does to write the piece. And when writing a report or other type of document that requires referencing source material, it is common to have to go on a hunt to find the original source – or as close to it as possible.
All this research is a treasure trove of learning.
The internet is a wealth of information and it is at your disposal as a writer. Will degrees or certifications come from writing content for others? No. But the experience and knowledge gained can be just as valuable in your career. As long as it is possible to show samples of work completed, proof of the ability to write well on a given topic or in a given niche or industry, people will be willing to hire you.
Not only that, but this is what I tell my clients when they are looking for a subject matter expert to write for them…
It’s better to hire a writer who is not a subject matter expert than to hire a subject matter expert who is not a writer. Subject matter is knowledge and can be learned. Writing is a skill that takes years to develop.
So, if you are a skilled writer, sell that skill. Sell it like you mean it! Let prospective clients know that you can learn the subject matter and don’t be afraid to dive in and take a risk. The ability to do this has served me well over the years.
And ANYONE can do it!
Freelancing truly does mean being paid to learn new things. Embrace learning for a living. You never know what direction it will take you.
After all, if I ever want to get saltwater fish, I’m all set 😉
And if you have learned something amazing in your freelance career or are a freelancer in a different niche, such as graphic design or administrative assistance, and you have learned from your work, let us know in the comments section below!